The mutation lin-26(n156) prevents vulva formation in C. elegans by transforming the vulval precursor cells into neurons or neuroblasts. We have isolated and characterized three new lin-26 alleles, which result in embryonic lethality. These mutations cause a few other hypodermal cells to express a neural fate and most hypodermal cells to degenerate. lin-26 encodes a presumptive zinc-finger transcription factor. Our data indicate that lin-26 is required for cells to acquire the hypodermal fate.

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